Tim Huffaker 2017

I was pondering the other day, the impact Albert E. N. Gray’s famous treatise, The Common Denominator of Success, has had on my sales career. 

I read it for the first time in 1978. Mr. Gray wrote this inspirational article for a major presentation he gave at the National Association of Life Underwriters annual convention held in Philadelphia in 1940.  We are all familiar with the most common quote from this essay, “The common denominator of success, the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful, lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing the things that failures don’t like to do.”  As important as taking action to do the things we don’t like to do, in discovering the formula for success, the true secret to achieving success transcends this quote and requires a deeper understanding into the reasons some people are willing to do the things that others are unwilling to do.  Here are a few thoughts that will hopefully put this notion in perspective and help you achieve success in both sales and your personal life.

  1. Success is found in the perpetual habit of doing those necessary things both failures and successful people don’t want to do.  Creating the habit of doing them will pull you through times of low desire and clouded motivation. Successful people are not genetically predisposed liking to do these things, but they know by doing them they will achieve the success they are seeking.  

  2. Discover an overpowering purpose within yourself, of such a compelling nature, that you willingly do the difficult, challenging and tedious details of selling.  Once you have committed to doing these things, due to your irrefutable purpose, the decision to take action never needs to be made again. The power of your purpose and the habits you have formed, places your actions on autopilot.

  3. It is the nature of human beings to work harder at maintaining their status quo than working to achieve something better.  The power of your purpose will propel you towards something better. In order to triumph over your natural tendencies, your purpose must be emotional.  A logical purpose will never have the power to cause you to do those things you don’t like to do. The power of human emotion has no bounds or limits and will catapult you to achieving your purpose.

  4. The practice of forming the habit of doing the things you don’t like to do, combined with discovering a purpose in your life so compelling as to cause you to do those things, will provide you with one of the greatest gifts of life; mastery over self.  You will learn by surrendering yourself to your purpose that you will have the strength to accomplish anything.

  5. The principles and actions you will need to adopt in achieving your purpose are not limited to, but might include the following: selflessness, discipline, organization, detail, patience, hard work, learning, doing, time management, humility, leadership, service, caring and personal sacrifice.

To paraphrase Albert Gray - for as long as you live, don’t ever forget that while you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams and your greatest expectations, you will never succeed beyond the purpose to which you are willing to surrender.  Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete until you are willing to form the habit of doing those things that failures are not willing to do.